Raj minister backs CM's critics

Cong rebels sceptical of their partys poll prospects

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s faces more trouble with the number of disgruntled legislators swelling by the day. With a cabinet minister coming out openly in support of them for the first time, the dissident Congress MLAs have got a shot in the arm.

Minister for social justice and empowerment Ashok Bairwa not only extended support to the legislators’ cause by saying that their complaints were genuine, but also identified himself as one among them with similar grievances.

The legislators seem weary of the percieved poor performance of the state government, and feel that the prospects of the party are bleak in the elections now just one-and-half years away.

The minister, who belongs to a Dalit community, said the legislators from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were unhappy.

“There is resentment, especially among the SC/ST legislators. Their complaints are genuine and I shall discuss it with the CM,” Bairwa said.

Of the half-a-dozen legislators who met at the minister’s residence on Tuesday, four belonged to the SC or ST category. They are C L Premi, Daulat Raj Naik, Ramlal Meghwal and Ganga Ben Garasia. Udai Lal Anjana (OBC) and Ganga Sahai Sharma were also present.

They are among the nearly two dozen Congress legislators who have been repeatedly complaining against Gehlot to the party high command, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

The Raisinghnagar (Sriganganagar) legislator Naik said the aggrieved legislators were ready to go to any extent if things did not improve.

The Congressmen accused Gehlot of centralisation of powers with him and the chief minister’s office (CMO). They hit out at his style of functioning, saying that the present government was being controlled by bureaucrats, especially IAS officers posted at the chief minister’s office.

Another legislator Premi from Keshoraipatan (Bundi district ) said, “We can’t understand why the bureaucracy is so dominating under the government. We doubt if the bureaucrats are following the ministers’ instructions.”

“The ministers’ express their pain to us and request us to complain to the high command,” Naik added.

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